As a previous elementary and middle school principal, I can tell you first-hand just how hard your children’s teachers work to make sure that all children that enter their classrooms are not just given a quality education experience, but are made to feel safe, secure, and loved, too. It was not uncommon that the teachers on my team carried one and even two extra side-hustles, not necessarily to make ‘ends meet,’ but because becoming a teacher doesn’t provide all that thick of a financial cushion to have such luxuries such as yearly vacations, music lessons for the kids, premium cable channels, or the regular weekly outings to restaurants.
Years ago when I was in the classroom, we were given stipends at the beginning of the school year to purchase items for our classrooms so that our students entered the classroom to find the walls richly decorated with graphics, neatly organized, and welcoming for the children. The distribution of stipends in some school districts has ceased due to budgetary restrictions. If you thought that this was going to stop a teacher from ensuring his/her classroom was student-ready, think again. Many educators spend a good chunk of their hard-earned income on incentives, rewards, school supplies, food/snacks, toys, resources, and copy paper for their own classrooms.
Enter the reality of COVID-19. The educational landscape has changed overnight on a scale we’ve never experienced in the entire history of education, leaving teachers to have to adapt to remote teaching as quickly as possible. Overnight, parents were to assume the roles of the facilitator of learning, thrust into teaching partnerships that most of us, quite frankly, were unprepared for…but that’s a story for a different post. To say it has been an uphill battle for some of us is putting it lightly.
If a week of having to teach, direct and redirect, council, and entertain our own children didn’t make us all appreciate the hard work teachers put in, then nothing ever will.
The educational world is filled with unspoken heroes, too. Many teachers across San Antonio and Texas are volunteering to go into school buildings during the shelter-in-place order to hand out technology to children who need devices to engage in online learning. Some teachers make the trip back to their school buildings daily to put together breakfast/lunch meals to be handed out daily to families in need of food. I’ve heard stories of teachers receiving correspondence from their students intermittently and at all hours of the night and teachers immediately responding at the unforsaken hour just so their student would know that there’s someone at the other end of the wire. Waiting, wondering, hoping that their students are okay.
The love a teacher has for your children doesn’t end at 5pm.
All those words to say, if teachers EVER deserved our appreciation and recognition, it is now.
I reached out to all of the educators in my life to ask them what their favorite and not-so-favorite gifts to receive for Teacher Appreciation are/have been. After a week of ‘man-on-street e-polling through emails, texts, Facebook and a survey, the results are in. Not a single teacher indicated they had a ‘not-so-favorite’ gift. Shocker.
But when it came to favorite gifts, they had a lot to say.
Gift Cards (restaurants, coffee, gasoline, grocery and an overwhelming number chose TARGET as their favorite place to receive a GC from). Almost all retail/grocery chains offer online e-cards that can be sent via email directly to the recipient. Gift cards are practical and a teacher favorite.
Home cooked meal––because of COVID-19, refer to #1.
Service-centered gift certificates: Any time you can save a teacher is a gift in and of itself. Consider a gift certificate for a service to a salon, house cleaning, cooking, or car wash service!
Office / School Supplies – Before COVID-19, this might have been relevant. Teachers love supplementing their arsenal with essentials for the classroom: highlighters, markers, bleach wipes, tissue boxes, stationary, sticky notes, colorful gel pens, #2 pencils, crayons, aspirin and tequila (just kidding, almost).
Social Media Love – post a message of appreciation to your child’s teacher on social media (either on your own page or theirs if you follow them). Be *specific* about exactly what you LOVE about him/her. Teacher’s appreciate positive feedback, but they especially appreciate it when they know exactly what it is that they’re doing right. How do they make your child feel? What do you appreciate about your child’s teacher? What does your child miss most about their teacher?
Email Love – consider sending your children’s teachers an email of appreciation, attach a photo of your child with a special message from them. Teachers LOVE getting heartfelt messages from their students. This is probably the best gift a teacher can receive.
Video Messages – Record a short message of appreciation from your child to his/her teacher! Have them sing a tune, dance a little jig, recite a poem, or read a heartfelt message.
Hand-Created Art – Of course, not being in school might make this a difficult gift to give. But if you’re able to mail a hand-drawn piece of art or picture, teachers love receiving gifts of the hand-made variety. Just make sure you don’t force your child to create something. The best gifts are the ones that come from the child him/herself because they want to do it, rather than having to do it.
What NOT to get a teacher:
There really is no reason to NOT reach out to thank a teacher this Teacher Appreciation Week. Whether or not we have school-aged children, we all know an educator we can show some appreciation to. It took a pandemic to make us realize how essential these people are to our community, to us, and our children.
Let’s reach out this May 4-8 to show the teachers in our lives that now, especially,
we see them,
we hear them,
we appreciate them.